Penrith coach Ivan Cleary blew kisses at Wests Tigers fans at fulltime after fullback Dylan Edwards gained the last laugh over his opponents when he scored the match-winning try in a fiery encounter at Bankwest Stadium.
Edwards was on the receiving end of several unsavoury incidents that led to Tigers centre Joey Leilua being sin-binned and second-rower Luke Garner placed on report as the match ended with a melee.
However, like his coach, the Panthers fullback was able to point to the 19-12 result on the scoreboard after saving a try late in the match when he chased down a runaway Adam Doueihi and then scoring himself in the 73rd minute.
Leilua and Garner were both placed on report for high shots on Edwards, while Penrith hooker Api Koroisau, whose long-range break led to the match-sealing try, was also reported for a tackle that forced Luciano Leilua from the field with concussion and set up the physical finish.
Match: Wests Tigers v Panthers
Round 8 -
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
It was clear from the opening moments that this was going to a fast and furious encounter, with Panthers second-rower Viliame Kikau jolting the ball loose from Tigers opposite Luke Garner in the second tackle of the match.
Penrith centre Stephen Crichton scored just four tackles later after halves Nathan Cleary and Jerome Luai combined to create an overlap on their left edge.
Kikau then went from try creator to try stopper when he halted Joey Leilua on the Panthers line before appearing to have scored at the other end in the 10th minute.
Cleary engages in some banter with Wests Tigers fans
However, the Bunker ruled that Crichton had knocked the ball forward in an aerial contest with Tigers winger David Nofoaluma from a Cleary kick before Kikau picked up to dive over.
The decision relieved the pressure on the Tigers and momentum began to swing their way as halfback Luke Brooks broke through the defence only to throw an intercept pass to Edwards five metres out from the tryline.
Tigers fullback Adam Doeuihi failed to prevent a 40/20 kick by Cleary after putting his toe on the touchline as he batted the ball infield but the home team survived and levelled the scores in the 28th minute when lock Matt Eisenhuth crashed over near the posts.
The try came off the back of three consecutive six-again calls against Penrith and referee Adam Gee warned that Luai had been responsible for each infringement and faced time in the sin-bin if it continued.
With the Tigers having fought their way back into the game, five-eighth Josh Reynolds provided the inspiration for them to finish the half on top through an energetic kick-chase.
Reynolds tackled Edwards on his own line as he fielded a kick from the former NSW Origin star and forced an error from the Penrith fullback at the end of the next set of tackles before swooping on the loose ball.
Interchange prop Thomas Mikaele was stopped short of the line by Luai but quick hands and a tap-on by Mose Mbye to rookie winger Tommy Talau put the Tigers ahead 10-6 lat halftime.
However, the lead was short-lived after Crichton won the race for a perfectly weighted Luai kick to score in the 46th minute. Cleary's conversion put the Panthers back in front.
Edwards then saved a try when he ran down Doueihi after a 60-metre break from his own in-goal but a penalty against Koroisau for a high tackle on Luciano Leilua as he dived on a Brooks kick enabled the Tigers to level the scores at 12-12.
Leilua was assisted from the field and joined interchange forward Sam McIntyre as the second Tigers player ruled out after a HIA.
The incident appeared to rattle his brother, Joey, who sparked a push and shove with Penrith players after going to check on Luciano and then conceded three late penalties to help the Panthers secure a 19-12 win.
Tommy Talau continues to fire for Wests Tigers
He was sin-binned after the third penalty in the 78th minute and placed on report after tackling Edwards high and without the ball in the Penrith in-goal.
Cleary had earlier kicked a 72nd-minute field goal and Edwards scored a minute later after Koroisau broke from dummy half and busted out of the tackles of Eisenhuth and Michael Chee-Kam before drawing Doueihi and passing to his fullback.
The match ended with another melee after Garner tackled Edwards high as he fielded a kick on the last tackle.